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Auckland, New Zealand
Smurf sized geeky person with a penchant for IT, gaming, music and books. Half of industrial duo 'the craze jones'. Loves data, learning new things, teaching new things and being enthusiastic.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Chromebook Review

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Google presentation in Auckland. It was a chance to catch up on the latest news from Google Apps and to also get a first look at an actual Chromebook.

Chromebooks aren’t yet available (officially) in NZ and Ed from Google said that they’re due for release here early next year. If you can’t wait that long then Amazon are doing some good deals and you can pick one up from around US$350.

If you haven’t already heard about the Chromebook, here’s the official info from Google.

Chromebook Overview
  • Uses Chrome browser as its user interface. Instantly boots to a web browser which can’t be closed as it’s the o/s.
  • No gradual slow down as nothing is stored locally – it’s all online
  • You can set up multiple logins on your Chromebook so that whoever logs in has access to their own Google apps
  • Constantly up to date as apps are online and new apps are always being created
  • Chrome O/S has built in security
  • Built in wi-fi and 3G means you can connect anywhere, anytime – however, the other side of this is that you need to be connected to the web to use a Chromebook
  • As everything is stored in the cloud and not locally, if you lose your Chromebook for any reason, you can just log in to another one and carry on as if nothing had happened.
I only had a brief amount of time to play with the Chromebook, but my thoughts on it are: 
  1. Very light and easy to carry; fits nicely in my handbag. 
  2. Would be an excellent tool for businesses who use gmail, Google Docs etc... it means that even if a Chromebook dies, gets lost or stolen, an employee can just grab another one from the supply closet and carry on immediately. 
  3. No risk of losing sensitive data if you accidentally leave your Chromebook in a coffee shop. 
  4. Here in NZ we still have a few areas where 3G isn’t functional, however, the market this is aimed at will most likely be in areas with good wi-fi and 3G connectivity. 
  5. A possible downside for businesses is that if our one cable to the outside World goes down for any reason, work will stop for the day. No cable = no internet access. This should hopefully be resolved in the near future when Pacific Fibre gives us another line to the outside World. This isn’t a flaw with the Chromebook, more a flaw with the infrastructure in NZ. 
  6. It’s fairly cheap, but only just cheaper than other options, for example, you can pick up a Motorola Xoom 3G from around NZ$700 or a Telecom Tab V9 from around NZ$280. 
  7. The other downside is that we tend to get shafted in NZ with prices charged being rather steeper than in other parts of the World, so whilst it’s being priced from US$350, we may end up with a higher initial US$ charge once it arrives in NZ. 
  8. As a nation our smartphone usage seems to be increasing rather rapidly, so will we need another device that does much the same as our phones, albeit with a nice easy keyboard/laptop style interface, or will our phones evolve to make them even easier to use in the cloud? Perhaps the Chromebook could evolve so that it doubles up as a phone with the addition of a SIM card.
Perhaps I want too much out of my gadgets.  I want one gadget that gives me web access, GPS navigation and is a hands free phone, all whilst being light and easy to carry around, at the moment I don’t think the Chromebook would give me that functionality, however, I do see a potential for businesses to reduce their hardware costs and at the same time make life a bit more fun for their staff. You could give these to staff at this cost and allow them to use them both as work and personal tools.

Have you had a chance to play with a Chromebook?  What are your thoughts about it?  Let everyone know in the comments section.

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